May 31st, 2009
02:17 PM ET
13 years ago

McConnell: Better things to do than play 'speech police'

(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN Sunday he disagrees with conservative commentators who have labeled Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist, but said he has better things to do than be "the speech police."

"Look. I've got a big job to do dealing with 40 Senate Republicans and trying to advance the nation's agenda, and better things to do than be the speech police over people who have their views about a very important appointment," McConnell told CNN's John King on State of The Union. "So I'm not going to get into policing everybody's speech."

The comments come two days after Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, publicly repudiated recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling Obama's choice for the high court a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Cornyn told NPR Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

McConnell told King Sunday the idea that Sotomayor is a racist - a notion largely based on her 2001 speech at Berkeley - is "certainly not my view."

"My view is we ought to take a look at this nominee's qualifications,” McConnell said. “I think her life story is absolutely impressive."

But the Senate Minority Leader added he would not rule out pushing for a filibuster against Sotomayor after a thorough investigation into her past rulings and statements.

"To predict [a filibuster] in the same week that the nominee is put forward is putting the cart before the horse," McConnell said. "We have no earthly idea whether that would be appropriate at some point in the process. We've got a lot of cases to read and a lot of background to check."

Filed under: Extra • Mitch McConnell • State of the Union
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Michele

    Champly May 31st, 2009 1:21 pm ET

    wishing – you wish she wasn't racist but she was. She referred to her self as a "latino women" compared to "white men". That is a clearly racist statement which disqualifies this candidate.

    WHAT? So if I call myself a white female, which is the truth, I'm being racist? So I can't be on the Supreme Court? Oh, wait, I never went to the top law school in the country, graduating first in my class, never been appointed by GHWBush as a judge, run a courtroom, made decisions, run another court at a higher level...THAT'S why I can't be nominated. She is more than qualified.

    When a man makes the same kind of statements about his immigrant background, that's fine. Now, THAT is racism at its finest. A white male can say the exact same things, (and did, check Alito's confirmation hearings!) and it is absolutely no problem for other white males. This is almost laughable if it weren't so sad that the evolution of this country seems to be part of the de-evolution of white males.

    May 31, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Hirotomi Takemitsu

    Is Rush Limbaugh also one of those dime-a-dozen ,bible thumping , hot airbag "preachers" ?

    He reminds me of one.

    May 31, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. democracy now

    Anybody who claims their life experiences does not influence their decisions is a BIG FAT LIAR. We all rely on our previous experience to make current decisions in our very own lives, and that applies to Supreme Court Justices. I am glad Justice Earl Warren was the "activist judge" that he was, and able to root out racism from schools through Brown vs Board among other things. Laws can be made by a majority and a simple majority at that one, just because a group of people vote make something a law DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT, and courts are the last resort people who have been denied justice by the Government/Police etc.

    May 31, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Whatever

    Champly, you're a retard. LOL, the white man learned slavery from Africans. OMG, your parents should of aborted you to save humanity from another stupid person.

    May 31, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. ThinkAboutIt

    Champly: Identifying yourself as a "Latina woman" and Caucasian men as "white men" is not racist. I'm of German, Norweigan, English, Irish and Cherokee descent; when I don't have time to recite the whole list, I refer to myself as an "All-American Mutt".

    Am I racist?

    May 31, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Brian

    Democrat here...but i agree with McConnell when he said he doesn't have time to apologize , paraphrase, or make excuses for words ANYONE else says. Things that Limbaugh says should not be this important....I wouldnt even hear him unless I didnt watch CNN lol. Way to go McConnell....and why give Sotomayor so much grief...ok if she wasn't a good pick, then who should Obama have picked and why...I think life will go on, and even if she doesn't know what she needs to know now, trust me, she will learn it when she is holding the office. Its a LIFETIME position. She will eat, sleep, and dream this stuff! She will be better at her job then we will be at tieing shows! LOL

    May 31, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. I Am The Great And Powerful Rush Of Oz

    Any bets on whether the guy that killed Dr. Tiller listened to right wing talk radio?

    May 31, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. ThinkAboutIt

    Champly: You say to GL that since Africans had slaves before whites came an enslaved blacks, that it's OK that whites enslaves Africans.

    So, by your logic, since Ted Bundy was a serial killer, it's OK to be a serial killer?

    Didn't your mama teach you that two wrongs don't make a right?

    May 31, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Ivan

    Senator McConnell did not say that Limbaugh and Newt were wrong to call Sotomayor a "racist," only that he McConnell will not become the "Speech Police". Siding stepping the the racist issue entirely, and of course no one called Senator McConnell on that.

    May 31, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Kevin

    Champly, where do you find the time? Get a life, you ill informed, racist moron.......

    May 31, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Lou from CT

    It is good to see some thawing of the Republican Party, but those who hold on to their outdated and sour grapes beliefs will continue to drag the party down.

    May 31, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Celeste

    McConnell was questioned on other issues such as health care. Why do these news people fold when the republicans bring up the 'fear tactic' of goverment interferring with medical decisions? I have never come across goverment interference with the Medicare patients I have taken to doctor appointments as a senior caregiver. We need an expansion of Medicare. Also, a news person should ask how much money have these politicians received from insurance and pharmaceutical companies. These politicans disgust me . They pretend to know what is best for us while we, the taxpayers, are paying for their health care. They begrudge us the decent health care they, prisoners and even terrorists (Guantanamo)) get. My premiums have gone up 520% along with less coverage since 2001 (Bush).

    May 31, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. bill

    rush is right! newt is right! It's right because they said so. all of the racist pigs should be put in a giant pit and buried. They'll all be liberals and tax cheats!

    May 31, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Dennis

    "40 Senate Republicans and trying to advance the nation's agenda," Hey Mitch, didn't you mean "advance our agenda for the nation," no matter how destructive it may be?

    May 31, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. yeah

    The GOP has no credibility calling ANYONE racist. they are the most racist political party in the world... besides it doesnt matter what they do or say, obama's pick will be confirmed and everybody knows it, the gop has no power or influence in america right now

    May 31, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Robyn

    Mitch McConnell has bowed to his leader, Rush Limbaugh, and he will follow Rush's agenda of fear, hate, greed and intolerance. A man would stand up for what is right, and slap Limbaugh down hard for the ignorant, pompous fool that he is. But McConnell is too cowardly for that.

    He feels he has more important things to do than what is right. If Republicans will not stand for honor, for truth, for simple decency, we can only hope their numbers continue to dwindle until they are nothing more than a dark forgotten memory of evil.

    May 31, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Chris

    It's interesting to watch the political discussions in the government between mostly white men about whether to let a Latina woman on the Supreme Court, 8 out of 9 of which are white, because SHE'S a racist. It would make a good Saturday Night Live skit, 'cause Saturday Night Live hasn't been funny in years.

    It's also interesting to note that the more angry, hateful and racist comments on this site against white people are generally full of misspellings and lousy punctuation. It's almost as if anger, hatred and ignorance go together.

    By the way-black people are only 12% of the population. White people are 50%. Who do you think ELECTED him?

    May 31, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Sotomayor will teach you....

    how the oppressed will now become the oppressors.

    Between her and Obama, if you are white, you might as well move to South Africa because you are not getting promoted and you are not getting a raise and if you are unemployed, you are not getting a job.

    May 31, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. dan baker

    do white people even know what racism is ? i dont think so. people of color do. I think that was her whole point.

    May 31, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Bill Nancy,KY

    Go ahead and filibuster this woman "possum" and you will pay for generations!

    May 31, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Poker Guy

    GOP leader clashes with Limbaugh :

    That's the title to this story. Is CNN trying to fabricate news instead of reporting news? Please just report fact s and let us form our own conclusion.

    May 31, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Ames Tiedeman, Austin, Texas

    Sotomayor is a complete racist. If a white male were to be nominated and then suggest white males were superior decision makers he would be out. Wake up! Stop trying to sugar cot what this racist, fascist Sotomayor disaster said!!! She is a La Raza thumping bigot!!! Everyone should hate her.

    May 31, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Ron

    these republicans are playing second fiddle to that dooms day preacher Rush Limbow..
    they are now taking to come out of their predicament..
    hope they will succeed...

    look for an apology to Limbow in the coming days


    May 31, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. Janine

    I think this is a prime example of the fact that the racism card gets thrown around too much. When I read her speech I don't see the same things that everyone else does. I think that a Latina woman could make a better decision than a White man in some cases. Just like a White man may make a better decision than a Latina woman. We are a melting pot – full of different cultures. And people can say whatever they want but everyone including Supreme Court judges are influenced by their culture and experiences.

    May 31, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Frank

    Folks, a "racist" is someone who displays racial predjudice in his or her actions, ranging from lynching to segregation to employment to hate crimes to stereotyping. This brilliant jurist, whose comment was directed to a question about the perspective a jurist with her background brings to the bench, is one of ethnic pride. No different from when an Irish person is proud of her background on St. Patrick's Day (think poetry and music) or and Italian (think art and sculpture, not to mention food). Please, do yourselves a favor and stop with the silly use of labels which have no meaning. Insulting Judge Sotomajor by calling her an inappropriate name diminishes you, not her. Frankly, if any of us had her background of achievements we would deserve to be way more proud than she seems to be. She was humbled by this nomination, and I for one take her at her word.

    May 31, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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